Cypriot chariot model with horses: Archaic I (750-600 BC)

chariot model with horses

Many votive chariot models and warrior figures are known from the rural shrines (Temene) of the Cypriot Iron Age.  They suggest a male god who may have been associated with fertility, perhaps with agrarian associations.  They also suggest that Royal and elite symbols had been taken up more widely, perhaps as part of a prevalent cosmological symbolism.

Chariots are known from illustration on pottery and from wheel ruts in Kition from the Late Bronze Ag but became common in Cyprus from the 8th century BC, but  Actual chariots have been found at Salamis, Kourion, Meniko and in the Limassol district. They were used for warfare in Cyprus as late as the 5th century BC, after their use had become purely ceremonial in Greece, as mentioned by Herodotus, and continued for ceremonial use for a while after.   Their introduction may have been influenced by the Assyrians. Their abundant representations in the 7th - 6th centuries suggest chariots and cavalry were used in battle at the same time. The Cypriot chariots were unusual in often having two shafts, though the shafts and yokes are not always depicted in models. Here, though, there seems only to be one. They are depicted with 1-4 riders (in this case 2). Model chariots have only been found in shrines and not in tombs and like the soldier models are presumed to have been left in the shrines of a male god as votive offerings. Extensive red and black paint remains on horses and also on chariot wheels, shield hung on front figure's back and the riders' eyes and ears.

 Almost all models are of Quadrigas (with 4 horses) and only a very few Bigas (2 horses).  Of those known to Karageorghis none are Trigas (3 horses), as here, though he says they probably existed and certainly existed in other countries, though rare.  This makes this model slightly questionable, though it looks right.  I have seen another triga model from the Cyprus Museum, Carolina (recently dispersed), but in the past chariot models have been known to be faked by combining parts from more than one chariot model.  The quantity of paint on this model is unusual - a number of them have lost their paint. The horses are usually crowded together but here are well spaced.  There would have been room for 4 horses.  Also the right hand horse has a collar modelled in relief which extends down to between the legs while the others do not.  This chariot is unusually narrow, given the width of the base plate, which is suspicious - it is rather like the few known chariot models with riders but without horses. The lack of depicted shafts is unusual and 3 horses would surely have needed two, yet the single socket suggests one shaft and it points downwards, which seems odd.  There is cracking in the "clay" the chariot to the base.

Yet the paint suggests two outer and an inner horse of a group of 3 or more, and the inner horse is correctly shorter to allow for the chariot. To sum up, the individual horses and chariot look genuine, but the question is, is this a genuine single model or is it made up of parts from two or more models?


Chariot (Archaic I)

Size: 17cm h x 19.5 x 22.5

(Ex collection of BL (friend, named in my records). Bought 1991 from dealer Chris Martin. (It was claimed Desmond Morris considered buying this model).)

(Aquired Private sale, December 2018 see above.)

DJ 125